One of the macrotrends identified by The Future Laboratory at the outset of the decade was “Bleisure”, ie, the blending of business and leisure. (The 2010s were, if nothing else, a decade of gross portmanteau words.) “We saw more freelancers, more start-ups, more businesses promoting flexible working, at the same time as more people were being laid off and having to fend for themselves,” Raymond says. “We saw the business sector responding to that, but also the hospitality sector, technology companies, fashion brands. It’s not forecasting exactly – it’s just noticing.”
Still, many of the specific examples cited as technologies of the future in the 2010 book haven’t weathered so well. I still have no idea how to use a QR code, or why I might want to. There is a design for a “lilypad floating city”, a luxurious, eco-friendly floating island designed by the Belgian architect Vincent Callebaut as the sort of place where climate refugees might live in the event of catastrophe. The actual experience of refugees in the 2010s makes it seem horribly poignant.
Technology, as the saying goes, is stuff that doesn’t work yet. But some examples of future tech were so nearly right. The “Muve Gruve inactivity monitor”, a piece of wearable weight-loss technology that clips on to your belt, feeds data back into your phone, and prompts you to exercise via a series of buzzes and bleeps. The company that made it has long since disappeared – but the Fitbit did catch on. Raymond even stands by the Okes recycled oak bicycle that he suggested would be “perfectly on-trend” for city hipsters. “There was a huge growth in cycling at the time,” he explains. “It was part of the move towards small designers, artisanal products and counterintuitive materials. And bamboo bikes are quite a big deal in China, you know.”
The full article originally appeared in a print issue of The Guardian.
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